As Ontario reopens, get vaccinated and practise behaviours to prevent COVID-19
The health and well-being of our residents is our top priority. We work daily with local hospitals, primary care, emergency services, the Ministry of Health, Public Health Ontario, and other provincial and federal partners in response to this new virus.
Public Health clinics are available by appointment or walk-in. See booking and walk-in information.
COVID-19 is still spreading in Niagara. It's important that we get vaccinated and practise behaviours to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Learn about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Ontario, including Niagara, is in Step 3 of the provincial reopening plan and businesses must follow the regulations and guidelines in this.
Locally, food and drink premises, as well as shopping malls and retail stores in Niagara, must also follow the restrictions outlined in Niagara's Section 22 Order. However, with local COVID-19 case numbers and reproductive rate meeting designated thresholds, the restriction on dining with household members only is lifted for parties dining outdoors as of June 24, 2021.
Local restaurants, bars, wineries, breweries, and other food and beverage service operators in Niagara are still required to follow other restrictions in the Section 22 Order. These include, but are not limited to:
By getting vaccinated and following public health measures, you can help keep our community safe while providing the opportunity for businesses to safely remain open.
We must all do our part to keep each other, our families and our communities safe. Staying healthy through this pandemic depends on our collective efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
You may not go into public areas, go for a walk or for a leisurely drive if:
No. Regularly washing your bare hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer offers more protection against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
You can still pick up COVID-19 contamination on rubber gloves. If you then touch your face, the contamination goes from your glove to your face and can infect you.
Gloves are recommended for specific situations like caring for sick individuals or to prepare some food safety. If you decide to wear gloves:
It's not certain how long COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Preliminary information on COVID-19 suggests that the virus may live on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days depending on:
High touch surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected regularly. Clean your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or hand sanitize. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
Products shipped within or from outside of Canada could also be contaminated. However, because packages usually take days or weeks to be delivered, and are shipped at room temperature, the risk of spread is low. There is no known risk of coronaviruses entering Canada on parcels or packages.
You must self-isolate if you fall under one of the following:
Watch this video where Dr. Hirji explains the difference between self-isolating and co-isolating in a household.
When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you're sick. Service animals are permitted to remain with their handlers.
If you're sick with COVID-19 and must care for your pet, wash your hands before and after interacting with your pet(s), and wear a face covering.
The only people in the household should be those who are responsible for providing care to the sick person.
People who are not taking care of the sick person should make arrangements to live somewhere else until the sick person is better. If this is not possible, other people in the home should stay in another room or be separated from the sick person.
Watch this video where they explain the contact tracing process Public Health performs with every positive COVID-19 case from Dr. Hirji and Sandra, a nurse from the infectious disease program.
Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces daily.
The decision regarding masks / face coverings was made by the Ministry of Education.
Not everyone can wear a mask and many disabilities are invisible. Exemptions are given for those who have health or other conditions that prevent them from wearing a face covering. If you would like to request a face covering exemption for a child, contact the school principal. Niagara Region Public Health doesn't give exemptions.
The Public Health Agency of Canada continues to advise Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada. Read about current travel restrictions.
If you're a traveller returning from anywhere outside Canada, you're required by law to:
Fully vaccinated travellers must use ArriveCAN to enter their proof of vaccination. Learn about providing proof of vaccination.
Find out how to get tested in Niagara if you started developing symptoms at home.
Travel out of the province should be for essential purposes only.
There are currently travel restrictions and exemptions when moving between most other provinces and territories. When you enter another province or territory, there may also be additional restrictions and public health measures that you must follow. Check with local authorities at your final destination before leaving Ontario.
Learn about Ontario’s travel restrictions and recommendations.
If you have concerns about an exposure to the virus while travelling, we recommend you speak to your health care professional or call the Niagara Region Public Health Info-Line at 905-688-8248 or 1-888-505-6074.
Individuals can leave home to travel. Remember, nothing is zero risk. Even if you are partially or completely vaccinated, it is important to follow public health measures. If you are ill, you should not travel even if your symptoms are mild. Also be aware of local restrictions that may be in place in other regions.
All viruses, including the virus that causes COVID-19, mutate over time. A virus with one or more mutations is a variant. Some mutations can change the characteristics '' of a virus, such as how it spreads, making it a variant of concern. COVID-19 variants of concern include:
You can see Niagara's daily case count for these variants.
We're concerned about these variants because they:
All variants may increase the risk of re-infection for people who already had COVID-19.
All Health Canada approved vaccines provide strong protection against COVID-19 and its variants, including the Delta variant.
Niagara Region Public Health doesn't recommend that employers require testing or doctor's notes for return to work. Some individuals will continue to test positive for COVID-19 for many months, long after they're no longer contagious.
Employees who have COVID-19
Most people who test positive for COVID-19 can end their isolation when:
Employees who are high-risk contacts
Employees who are high-risk contacts can return to work at the end of their 14-day isolation period as long as they have:
Employees who get a test due to COVID-19 symptoms
Even if the symptoms were mild, people must self-isolate while awaiting test results. If test results are negative, employees can return to work when:
Employees who get a test due to COVID-19 even if they didn't have symptoms
Employees can return to work, but self-monitor if they meet the following:
Employees returning from international travel
Employees who return from international travel, regardless of test results, must self-isolate for at least 14 days before they can return to work.
Some of the mild symptoms of COVID-19, such as a runny or congested nose, headaches or diarrhea can be attributed to other pre-existing health conditions.
It's important to seek guidance from a health care provider or self-refer for testing at a Niagara Health COVID-19 Assessment Centre if you have even one mild symptom associated with COVID-19. There is specific guidance for children with symptoms.
Niagara Health does the majority of Niagara's COVID-19 testing at their assessment centres. Niagara Health's testing numbers don't account for the testing done by other doctor's offices in our community, for example in:
Also, some Niagara residents seek testing outside of Niagara. For example, West Niagara residents are tested at the Stoney Creek Assessment Centre.
We work with our health care partners to test anyone who might be a case of COVID-19, even if they have unusual or mild symptoms. We want to find every case of COVID-19 in Niagara so that we can isolate them, isolate their contacts and stop every chain of transmission.
Community members who have symptoms of COVID-19 should self-isolate and contact their health care professional or self-refer for testing at an assessment centre. See specific guidance for adults and children with symptoms.
If there are remaining questions, call our COVID-19 Info-Line to speak with a public health professional by calling 905-688-8248, then press 2.
Community members who have symptoms of COVID-19 should self-isolate and contact their health care professional or call our COVID-19 Info-line to speak with a public health professional by calling 905-688-8248 press 7, then press 2.
For more information about testing in Niagara, we encourage you to watch this video from Dr. Hirji.
Learn more from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about safe handling of deliveries and mail.
We encourage you to call your local public health agency. The COVID-19 recommendations in Niagara may be different from where you live. Recommendations can vary based on the demographics of each region and the Medical Officer of Health leading the COVID-19 response.
Our COVID-19 webpage is updated daily at noon.
To access your lab results, visit testing and lab results for COVID-19. Watch this informative video to learn how to find your COVID-19 test results.
The virus transmits from person to person through coughing and sneezing, just like the common cold or flu.
Niagara Region Public Health monitors flu (influenza) activity. The number of cases of the flu has remained low so far this year because:
However, there are also years where we don't see much flu until December or January, so we should all take precautions and remain vigilant to keep flu low while we're busy fighting COVID-19.
Yes, depending on which test is used. Your health care provider will pick the test that's right for your health needs.
Some of the tests used to detect COVID-19 also detect other respiratory viruses. One of them is influenza, commonly called the flu. Other tests detect only COVID-19.
Some of the symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to the flu, and it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. You may need a COVID-19 test to help confirm a COVID-19 or influenza diagnosis.